Chamber Music Monterey Bay knows the important role that listening to and participating in music can play in the lives of people of all ages: music animates the body, hones the mind and spirit, and brings us together, whether we’re onstage or in the audience, with a sense of shared purpose and feeling.

All music can affect us in this way, but chamber music, with its small ensembles, its intimate colloquy of performers and audience, is unique in its capacity for evoking these feelings of fellowship and participation. It is this sense of inclusiveness, along with the profound and exhilarating musical experiences it creates, that drives Chamber Music Monterey Bay to bring the joys of chamber music to the California Central Coast.

To accomplish this goal, we sponsor several education and outreach programs for youth and adults: our Visiting Artists Outreach program; our “Kids Up Front & Free!” program; Public Master Classes; and Pre-concert Lectures.

Initiatives that share a common purpose: to bring as many local residents as possible into the fold of chamber music listenership and to nourish this audience for years—indeed, generations—to come.

Our Visiting Artists Outreach program connects world-class ensembles with local schools, where they give interactive lecture-demonstrations about their instruments, repertoire, and rehearsal process. Students get to hear chamber music performed at the highest level while learning firsthand about our performers’ careers as professional musicians.

The Visiting Artists Outreach program now serves over 300 schoolchildren each year, many of them students who would not ordinarily have the opportunity to hear chamber music or to talk with performers one-on-one.

Our school visits support teachers’ instructional goals and offer students an exciting educational and artistic experience. As one student put it, “I think I’ll give [classical music] a try.” Another told us that a Visiting Artists Outreach presentation “inspired me and my friends so much, we started playing [music] together.” And, with condolences to Mickey & Donald, a newly minted young fan of the Miró Quartet said to her mother, “Mom…it was better than Disneyland!”

 

 

When given the chance to listen, young people like chamber music. So do the young at heart—which is why, in addition to school presentations, the Visiting Artists Outreach program brings chamber music to assisted-living facilities, where we serve those who can no longer attend our regular performances. We also hold informal concerts at libraries and other community venues, reaching audiences who have never before been exposed to live, professional-quality chamber music.

Like all good habits, listening to great music is worth starting early: musical training strengthens the linguistic and mathematical areas of the brain; teaches healthy habits like teamwork, discipline, and persistence; and allows young people to occupy their energies in a constructive and joyful environment.

Such benefits are an important reason why Chamber Music Monterey Bay dedicates considerable resources to making our concerts as accessible as possible to children and families. Under our Kids Up Front & Free! program, kids in the 3rd–12th grades can attend our concerts free of charge; adult companions pay a significantly reduced ticket price of $15 (free of charge for adults in the party of an institutionally organized field trip.) All are invited to sit in the front three rows for an up-close and personal experience with our wonderful musicians.

Kids Up Front & Free! makes it possible for families from a wide range of economic backgrounds to attend professional chamber music performances and enjoy the pleasures of classical music together. We also extend this invitation to community organizations that serve children and families, as well as to teachers and their classes: in recent years, CMMB has placed particular emphasis on partnering with schools and with after-school programs administered by nonprofit organizations—programs like Marina Youth Arts, Salinas Union High School’s Migrant Education Program, and Seaside’s Village Project.

All participants in institutionally organized field trips, including students, teachers, staff, and family, are able to attend our concerts at no cost, as are any music instructors who accompany their pupils. When these groups are larger than our front-section seating can accommodate, we place the remaining attendees in the best seats available to ensure they have the most satisfying possible concert experience.

In addition to inducting new listeners of all ages into the world of classical music, Chamber Music Monterey Bay supports students who are already active or aspiring musicians.

From 2000–2010, we oversaw a weeklong summer music program for local students. This program, which grew to serve nearly 90 young musicians per session, offered classes ranging from beginning instrumental instruction to advanced chamber music, including three levels of orchestral training.

In 2013, having handed over operation of the program to Youth Music Monterey County, we partnered with them to bring the first professional master class to Monterey County chamber music students. Before the class, audience members and participants had the opportunity to hear an open rehearsal by the renowned Juilliard String Quartet, after which the quartet coached young string ensembles in front of the crowd, offering them lessons in technique, artistry, and performance practice.

The event has become an annual collaboration between Chamber Music Monterey Bay and Youth Music Monterey County, with a different world-renowned ensemble presiding each year. Master classes are free and open to the public, drawing upwards of 250 community members per event.

To enhance the concert-going experience, Chamber Music Monterey Bay offers a complimentary lecture before each regular-season performance. Presented by the esteemed San Francisco musicologist Kai Christiansen, who also writes our extensive concert program notes, these lectures are designed to walk audience members through the evening’s repertoire. Frequently covered topics include composer biography, historical context, and structure and other salient technical features, providing a topographic musical map to help both new and experienced listeners follow what’s happening onstage.

In some lectures, we have the special privilege of featuring interactions with the composers of our commissioned works. These symposia allow audience members to hear the composer’s take on his or her piece and to ask questions about the compositional process and life as a contemporary composer.

The pre-concert lecture series has grown to be an integral part of our concert season: listeners express their appreciation both in audience surveys and via their consistent and enthusiastic presence.